It’s more than California’s biggest game in years. It’s also the biggest college football game in the country Saturday, reducing a traditional rivalry like Florida State-Miami to secondary status as Cal-Utah takes top billing.
ESPN is bringing “College GameDay” to Salt Lake City for a showdown of the only remaining undefeated teams in the Pac-12 that few people would have predicted.
No. 23 Cal and quarterback Jared Goff are 5-0 for the first time since 2007 and are gunning for the program’s first 6-0 start since 1950.The No. 5 Utes (5-0) are being touted in some quarters as the top team in the country. Neither team was ranked in preseason.
“We’re viewing this as a good opportunity to go in the national spotlight and make a statement,” Cal receiver Bryce Treggs said.
The Golden Bears control their own Pac-12 destiny, and Utah is their biggest challenge to date. The Utah secondary has the challenge of slowing down Goff, who ranks in the top 10 nationally in completion percentage, passing efficiency, passing touchdowns and passing yards. The Utes defense has given up yards in the air but has been adept at picking off passes. Goff tends to get the ball out of his hands quickly, and Utah defensive coordinator John Pease said his defenders need to make Goff “pull the ball down” and go to his second read. Starting corners Cory Butler-Byrd and Dominique Hatfield will need to continue to excel.
Goff’s favorite target is acrobatic wide receiver Kenny Lawler. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound junior has 27 catches, 399 yards and eight receiving touchdowns. The Golden Bears spread the ball around and have six receivers with double-digit receptions.